Washington, DC - The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) welcomes the decision by Bank of Hawaii to re-open bank accounts for Iranian customers. After receiving reports that the bank had terminated the accounts of Iranian customers in the U.S. in an effort to comply with U.S. financial sanctions against Iran, NIAC called on the bank to reverse the decision and worked to help facilitate a solution with the bank and the Department of Treasury that meets sanctions compliance requirements while not punishing Iranians in the United States. NIAC applauds Bank of Hawaii for acting promptly and for satisfactorily addressing all concerns.
Bank of Hawaii issued the following statement:
"Bank of Hawaii, in consultation with its technology providers, regulators and advocacy groups such as the National Iranian American Council ("NIAC"), has developed a solution to allow it to once again make accounts available to Iranian residents.
"In recent months, we have had to take steps to ensure compliance with U.S. sanctions regarding Iran, in particular those prohibiting access to U.S. bank accounts by persons in Iran. Unfortunately, this placed burdens on customers whose primary residence was indicated as Iran but who reside in the United States. (Iranian customers whose primary residence is in the U.S. are not subject to the same restrictions). Bank of Hawaii strongly values its relationship with our Iranian customers and with the Iranian-American community, and we regret any inconvenience this has caused.
"We plan to contact the seventeen customers whose accounts were closed, and to provide them with information about restarting their banking relationships with Bank of Hawaii in the next week or so. As part of the solution, areas where access will need to be restricted are banking-by-mail and transactions over the telephone. Access through debit cards, checks, ATMs and over the internet will be available while the customers are in the U.S.
"Bank of Hawaii thanks NIAC for its outreach and efforts to help us craft a solution that meets the banking needs of Iranian residents while adhering to its obligations under the U.S. Government's economic sanctions program."
NIAC is pleased that this issue has been resolved. While broad sanctions have created significant compliance issues for banks and private companies, it is critical that these policies do not negate the basic rights and protections afforded to Iranian citizens in the United States.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. We accomplish our mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision-making by policymakers.